Hyundai-Backed Electric Air Taxi Company Hires NASA Veteran to Lead Technology Efforts

David McBride named Chief Technology Officer of Supernal, to spearhead development of air taxi services

In a major development for Supernal, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group, NASA veteran David McBride has been appointed as its chief technology officer. Based in Washington, DC, Supernal announced on March 25 that McBride will lead the development and certification of the company’s proposed electric air taxi.

According to CEO Jaiwon Shin, the company is entering a new phase of development following the successful debut of its conceptual SA-2 air taxi at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Shin expressed excitement about McBride joining the team and his ability to help bring Supernal’s scalable eVTOL vehicle to market by 2028.

McBride brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having served as director of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center for over 30 years. During his tenure, he played a key role in various missions such as achieving full operational capability of the Boeing 747SP aircraft and advancing aerospace knowledge through projects like the solar-powered Helios aircraft and the X-57 Maxwell all-electric aircraft.

McBride expressed his enthusiasm for joining Supernal and working on bringing their eVTOL vehicle to market. The SA-2 air taxi is designed to accommodate four passengers and will feature a V-tail and a distributed electric propulsion system with eight tiltrotors. It will cruise at 104kt and be optimized for flights between 40km and 64km.

Supernal aims to leverage Hyundai’s manufacturing capabilities in scaling up production of their eVTOL vehicle. The company plans to complete a first flight with technology demonstrator by end of 2024 and assemble a production prototype by 2026.

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